Former newspaper boss Eddy Shah tells of early days behind scenes at Coronation Street as he faces trial for schoolgirl rape

69-year-old denies sex charges amid allegations of threesomes in 1990s

Former newspaper boss Eddy Shah told a court about his early life working on Coronation Street today as he began giving evidence in his trial where he is accused of raping a schoolgirl.

Shah, 69, who denies six counts of raping a girl under 16, told the Old Bailey that as a teenager he worked as a floor assistant at the BBC in the early 1960s, before moving to Granada as they were offering to pay him more money.

But he said he also quit that job as he was tired of his role as a floor manager on the long-running soap.

"I just didn't want a lifetime of working on Coronation Street," he told the court. "The people were difficult people to look after - the actors."

Shah, who ran the Today newspaper in the 1980s and 90s, is on trial alongside two other defendants - Anthony Pallant and Susan Davies - said he had spent much of his childhood with his grandparents in Pakistan.

The father-of-three told jurors he then moved back to England at the age of 11 and studied at the independent Gordonstoun School in Moray, northern Scotland, before his UN-worker father took him out after he was twice suspended.

Shah, who said his mother was of English/Irish descent and his father of Persian and related to the Aga Khan, said he then went to grammar school in Reigate, Surrey, before going to a crammer from which he left with eight O'Levels.

The court heard that soon after Shah began working at Granada in Manchester he met his actress wife Jennifer White Shah, described by his defence barrister Jonathan Barnard as a "top model" and "Bond girl" as she starred in the spoof film Casino Royale.

Mr Barnard said she had the likes of Des O'Connor and Charles Bronson after her at the time.

"She was earning a lot more money than me," Shah said. "I was surprised she ended up with me."

"What did she see in you?," Mr Barnard asked.

"I sometimes wondered, to be honest with you," Shah said. But he admitted that he actually fancied her friend at the time.

Shah was asked about his three children with Ms White Shah, who watched proceedings from the back of the courtroom.

He said his eldest child was Martin, 39, and they also went on to have a daughter Tamsin, 34, and another son, Alex, 32.

Shah, who is charged under his birth name of Selim Shah, is alleged to have taken part in threesomes with Davies and the schoolgirl in the early 1990s.

Pallant is also accused of attacking the under-age girl, who waited nearly 20 years to tell police.

Davies, 53, of Swanley, Kent, denies 14 counts of aiding and abetting rape indecent assault, indecent assault and child cruelty, while Pallant, 53, of West Malling, Kent, denies six counts of rape and indecent assault.

The offences are alleged to have happened when the girl was between the ages of 12 and 15.

Shah, of Chippenham, Wiltshire, was continuing to give evidence this afternoon.